Nadine Dorries has again been sticking her opinion, as is her right as a Member of Parliament, into things where we’d rather not have to suffer it. This time, in her column on Conservative Home, she claims that the Civil Marriage Equality consultation is, ‘pursued by the metro elite gay activists,’ and that, ‘I have yet to meet a gay couple in my constituency or beyond who support it.’ Dorries comments are undoubtedly going to upset and/or anger many of the supporters of the proposals, like only Dorries has the ability to do. But is she actually ‘wrong’?
What I’m not going to argue is that Dorries is fibbing about the views of her nearest and dearest. There are indeed people within the LGBT community who don’t feel that the equal marriage proposals in its current form is what they want/need. Despite how we might individually feel about the subject we must acknowledge and respect these views even if we don’t like them. The people that Dorries speaks about are real. Last month Labour MP Ben Bradshaw came under fire for stating that the LGBT community already had equal rights through the Civil Partnership Act, something which Stonewall and other organisations certainly feel otherwise. Some couples and singletons I know are ambivalent about it too, for whatever reason they’re free to have. I do honestly wish these said acquaintances would have an opinion similar to mine, but that’s for them to come to terms with, and in the mean time we’ll just have to agree to differ.
I’m also not going to argue against the statement she makes about the fact that she states we are just like the heterosexual community, whilst kindly lambasting a few ‘stereotypes’ of us. ‘Great Britain and its gay couples don’t live on Canal Street in Manchester, shop in The Lanes in Brighton or socialise at Gaydar in London. Gay couples are no different from heterosexual couples.’ But this oddly seems to go against Dorries’ own argument. If we are the same, then why must we make do with being singled out by means of joining with our partners in a forcibly exclusive manner different to those you consider equal to us? Peter Tatchell, in our interview with him last year, makes a very fine point on this matter. ‘In essence, civil marriages and civil partnerships are almost identical, so why have two separate systems and why exclude people on the basis of sexual orientation under both systems?’
As for the ‘metro…elite’, it’s the same shallow and paranoid babble from the right that is expected, which I’m just going to discard as defensive nonsense with no basis to it. Indeed, if the fact that I support equal marriage whilst earning less than £25,000 a year makes me ‘elite’, then it’s a pretty low threshold as far as a new definition goes, although a marvellous confidence boost.
Where Dorries has gone wrong is the audacity to believe that she and her posse are apparently the benchmark for British opinion. There is a whole range of emotions on the subject, and some of it polemic even within the LGBT community. For anyone in politics or otherwise to suggest that because we all engage in practises outside of the hetero-normative binary means we all politically think the same, is absurd. And on that argument, just because there is a section of the LGBT community that do not agree with the Civil Marriage Equality consultation, does not mean the majority of us are against it.
What I would like to suggest to Dorries is that she simply gets out more and try to meet a wider range of people – especially if her leader can go to the lengths to meet a black man in Southampton. Then she might actually gain a wider sense of the debate that is actually going on. There are a host of people who aren’t part of the ‘elite’ or are indeed ‘gay’ that support David Cameron’s backing of a change in the law. To blanket everyone’s beliefs based on your own experiences is just silly and lazy. Therefore, Dorries, may I invite you around to mine and my partner’s for a dinner party so we can talk about why we would like to get married without being marked as different by manner of process? I’m sure my straight neighbours would like to join us too, who hold very similar views. There will be cake. I bought it especially from Brighton.
Featured image: Nadine Dorries, by Alexhughescartoons (Flickr)